Vince Cable writes as a seasoned politician, former business secretary, and with an understanding of economics. But I suspect he is not questioning the market’s right to control house prices.
Besides food and water, a place to live is one of the essential elements for a safe and productive life, energy being another vital requirement. It is unthinkable that a government could allow food and water shortages to threaten people’s lives and well-being, but the availability of sufficient affordable housing has been a common theme for decades.
Part of the problem is that housing is seen as an asset. Economists often view rising house prices as an economic benefit. I took advantage of rising house prices twice, but they involved my house and allowed me to buy a house that would probably have gone up in price as well. Because food and water generally cannot be stored as an asset (wine being an exception), this means that only housing, for the most part, is subject to market forces in this way, resulting in rising rents and the bizarre results that potential building plots can be kept undeveloped until the value increases, and homes can be bought simply as an investment without even being used as a home.
This raises the issue of land prices, as Cable wrote. Can house prices be controlled, which would of course also imply controlling land prices? It is a challenge that I would like to see a government take seriously.
I read with interest John Rentoul’s column on Keir Starmer’s mission to get to the bottom of the uninspiring saga of David Cameron and Greensill. I am behind the Labor Party in this matter because it gets to the bottom of how lobbying should be undertaken and how it can be manipulated for less than transparent and ethical purposes.
It is indeed a chance for the opposition to nail its modus operandi of transparency to the fragile government pole of the blatant opportunism of a former Prime Minister who finally admits that he should have been better informed and gone through the appropriate channels. . This usually fuels the public mindset that they are all guilty of cronyism.
In 2010, before being elected to high office, Cameron spoke ethically with intact directors about the need to keep moral probity as the watchword when it comes to lobbying and pursuing the more formal channels. Too bad he did not stay true to his words. This needs to be investigated and the Labor Party is right to pursue this action with determination to get to the bottom of this heinous matter.
Judith A Daniels
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
‘No rule broken’
If I were a gambler, or a woman, I would be prepared to put a few words on the outcome of the government’s investigation into the Greensill affair. It will probably be seen that no action should be taken against ministers or officials, past or present, because “no rule has been broken”.
But shouldn’t it be a requirement of those in high office that they do what is right and appear to be doing it? If they just obey inadequate rules, they turn out to be dirty little people who line their own dirty little nests. And their successors in authority, if they do not censor them, risk being tarred with the same brush.
Frampton Cotterell, Gloucestershire
Lockdown mitigates danger
Boris Johnson tells us that easing the lockdown will inevitably create an increase in coronavirus deaths. As for it, it facilitated the lockdown. Therefore, I hold him personally responsible for the next increase in coronavirus deaths.
But a quick flounce of that sloppy hair and a sad smile, while sporting an endearing ill-fitting costume, should settle it. This is the despicable level of our politics. Any half-honest Conservative and all the other members who are not angry with this unprincipled government are complicit.
Do it slowly
In February of last year, I finally retired at the age of 72, bought a new car and tentatively planned to visit friends and family in various parts of the British Isles and around the world. I arrived in Slough before the restrictions took effect.
My partner and I absolutely followed the sound advice of isolating at home, only for shopping if necessary, and washing / sanitizing my hands when I get home. We’ve both had our shots and will be venturing out in the near future.
We were cocooned in a three bedroom house with a small garden. From the start I thought we would have a ‘rocky ride’ but believe it or not it was enjoyable.
We discussed events and feelings, laughed and argued, but became closer as a result.
The terrible consequences of the pandemic were still on our minds, but we have remained positive and feel fortunate to have missed the trauma so many people have gone through.
We both aspire to be free to roam like we did before this crisis, but we realize that it will be a long time before we are released from Covid-19. We are not bored, just a little tired from the monotony. Mostly, we miss the interaction with people, friends and family.
Maybe next year we can go back to a less surreal way of life. Maybe we can have first hand gossip, cheer on a sports arena, cry, laugh and feel proud of departures, weddings and funerals, etc. It will come soon.
As in any story, there is a beginning, a middle and now we need the crescendo, an end to the grief that so many people have been through. For now, let’s take it slow and don’t give up on the gains we’ve made.
I have heard of the wonderful achievement of a woman who was the first to win a major horse race. The clue is surely in the name “horse race” – it was a horse that won the race and had just had a female hanging on its back.